Fludarabine (Injection)

Introduction

Fludarabine (floo-DAYR-a-been)

Treats chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL).

Brand Name(s)

Fludara

There may be other brand names for this medicine.

When This Medicine Should Not Be Used

You should not receive this medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to fludarabine, or if you are pregnant. Do not use this medicine if you are also taking pentostatin (Nipent®).

How to Use This Medicine

Injectable

  • Medicines used to treat cancer are very strong and can have many side effects. Before receiving this medicine, make sure you understand all the risks and benefits. It is important for you to work closely with your doctor during your treatment.
  • You will receive this medicine while you are in a hospital or cancer treatment center. A nurse or other trained health professional will give you this medicine.
  • Your doctor will prescribe your exact dose and tell you how often it should be given. This medicine is given through a needle placed in one of your veins.
  • The medicine is usually given every day for 5 days. This 5-day treatment is given again every 28 days until your body responds to the medicine. Each treatment usually takes about 30 minutes.
  • If any of this medicine gets on your skin or in your eyes, nose, or mouth, tell your caregiver right away.

If a dose is missed:

  • This medicine needs to be given on a fixed schedule. If you miss a dose, call your doctor, home health caregiver, or treatment clinic for instructions.

Drugs and Foods to Avoid

Ask your doctor or pharmacist before using any other medicine, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.

  • Make sure your doctor knows if you are also using medicines that weaken the immune system. This includes cancer medicines, radiation treatment, or steroid medicines.
  • Talk to your doctor before getting flu shots or other vaccines while you are receiving this medicine. Vaccines may not work as well, or they could make you ill while you are using this medicine.

Warnings While Using This Medicine

  • This medicine can cause birth defects if it is used by the mother while she is pregnant or by the father when his sexual partner becomes pregnant. If a pregnancy occurs while you are using this medicine, tell your doctor right away.
  • Make sure your doctor knows if you are breastfeeding, or if you have kidney disease, lung disease, bleeding problems (such as hemophilia), bone marrow problems (such as anemia, neutropenia, or thrombocytopenia), gout, or any type of infection. Also, tell your doctor if you have had transfusions.
  • This medicine lowers the number of some types of blood cells in your body. Because of this, you may bleed or get infections more easily. To help with these problems, avoid being near people who are sick or have infections. Wash your hands often. Stay away from rough sports or other situations where you could be bruised, cut, or injured. Brush and floss your teeth gently. Be careful when using sharp objects, including razors and fingernail clippers.
  • If you plan to have children, talk with your doctor before using this medicine. Some men and women using this medicine have become infertile (unable to have children).
  • This medicine may cause dizziness, drowsiness, trouble in thinking, trouble in controlling movements, or trouble in seeing clearly. Avoid driving, using machines, or doing anything else that could be dangerous if you are not alert and not able to think or see well.
  • This medicine may cause a serious type of reaction called tumor lysis syndrome. Your doctor may give you a medicine to help prevent this. Call your doctor right away if you have a decrease or change in urine amount; joint pain, stiffness, or swelling; lower back, side, or stomach pain; a rapid weight gain; swelling of the feet or lower legs; or unusual tiredness or weakness.
  • Some of the side effects of this medicine may appear up to 60 days after you have stopped using this medicine.
  • Cancer medicines can cause nausea and/or vomiting in most people, sometimes even after receiving medicines to prevent it. Ask your doctor or nurse about other ways to control these side effects.
  • Your doctor will need to check your blood at regular visits while you are using this medicine. Be sure to keep all appointments.

Possible Side Effects While Using This Medicine

Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these side effects:

  • Allergic reaction: Itching or hives, swelling in your face or hands, swelling or tingling in your mouth or throat, chest tightness, trouble breathing
  • Blistering, peeling, or red skin rash.
  • Blood in your urine, difficult or painful urination, or lower back or side pain.
  • Bloody, or black, tarry stools.
  • Blurred vision or changes in vision.
  • Change in how much or how often you urinate.
  • Chest pain or troubled breathing.
  • Confusion, extreme tiredness, fainting, thirst, or increased sweating.
  • Feeling anxious, nervous, or restless.
  • Fever, chills, cough, runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, and body aches.
  • Numbness, tingling, or burning pain in your hands, arms, legs, or feet.
  • Problems with vision, speech, or walking.
  • Seizures.
  • Severe stomach pain.
  • Shortness of breath, uneven heartbeat, and yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes.
  • Swelling in your hands, ankles, or feet.
  • Unusual bleeding or bruising.
  • Unusual tiredness or weakness.
  • Vomiting of blood or material that looks like coffee grounds.
  • Worsening of cancer lesions.

If you notice these less serious side effects, talk with your doctor:

  • Hearing loss.
  • Mild rash or itching skin.
  • Muscle or joint pain.
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, or stomach pain.
  • Sores or white patches in your lips or mouth.

If you notice other side effects that you think are caused by this medicine, tell your doctor

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088

Version Info

  • Last Reviewed on 06/12/2013

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This page was last updated: September 18, 2013

         
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